Hospice Charity Bowl Sale to open at SJC

Mike Easterling
Dean Howard shops for bowls during San Juan College's Hospice Charity Bowl Sale in  December 2012.

FARMINGTON – San Juan College pottery instructor Don Ellis figures it only takes him five minutes to throw a small ceramic bowl — but that’s only the beginning of the process, he said.

“You still have to do the bottom, put a foot on it, glaze it and throw it in the kiln,” he said, describing the other steps that result in the completion of the 1,300 one-of-a-kind bowls that will be available for purchase during the annual Hospice Charity Bowl Sale Thursday, Nov. 12 and Friday, Nov. 13 at the college.

To prepare for the sale, which raises money for Northwest New Mexico Hospice, Ellis and his students have been producing bowls for months. By necessity, most of his students have become very efficient at the process, Ellis said, and they derive considerable satisfaction from knowing they are the driving force behind an event that raised $10,000 for the hospice organization last year.

“I don’t get too many complaints,” he said. “They enjoy it.”

Cindy McNealy serves soup at the Hospice Charity Bowl Sale at San Juan College in December 2012.

Ellis has been part of the event for the last 10 years, but he said it had been around for five or six years before that. Even so, its popularity never seems to flag, he said.

“We have not seen a decline since I’ve been here,” he said. “Our original goal was 300 bowls. Now, we max out at 1,000 to 1,300. That’s about all I ask of the students. Some of them devote two-thirds of their semester to it, and some have been working before that, in the summer.”

Visitors choose the bowl they like best for $10, which comes with a fill-up of soup from the on-campus cafeteria, Mary’s Kitchen. Ellis said six varieties of soup usually are offered, including minestrone, vegetable beef, tomato bisque and the enduring favorite, green chile chicken.

The event also features live music. Highland Casual will perform from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first day, while the Woodard Family will be featured from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the second day.

Most of the proceeds from the sale go to the hospice organization, but Ellis said some of the money is held back to pay for clay and other supplies that will be used for next year’s event.

Proceeds from San Juan College's annual Hospice Charity Bowl sale benefit Northwest New Mexico Hospice.

The sale also will be held in conjunction with the annual Fall Student Art Exhibit, and Ellis said nearly two dozen additional vendors will be operating booths at the sale, with 20 percent of their proceeds going to the hospice group.

“It’s a major endeavor for the students that they’re committed to, and we’ve been having it for 16 years or so,” he said.

Ellis said the beneficiary of the sale also works hard to express its appreciation to his group.

“Hospice returns a lot to us,” he said, explaining that the organization has served family members of many of the potters. “They provided us a lunch two weeks ago, and they brought us cookies (last week).”

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: The Hospice Charity Bowl Sale

When: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13

Where: The 9000 rooms on the San Juan College campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington

Cost: Ceramic bowls are $10 and come with a fill-up of soup

For more information: Call Don Ellis at 505-566-3486